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Controversies have continued to trail the speech of a chieftain of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, which he delivered on Saturday, 25 March, in Awka during an event to mark Charles Soludo’s one year in office as the Governor of Anambra State.
The businessman and politician was said to have described the Yoruba race as ‘Rascals’ while speaking at the event attended by top Igbo leaders and political stakeholders.
The likes of pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, and some other notable people in the South-West region of Nigeria have since slammed Iwuanyawu over the alleged attribution.
In a statement by its National Organising Secretary, Apagun Omololu, Afenifere faulted Iwaunyawu, and called on the Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership to caution him.
The organization said it would reach out to the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to seek clarification on Iwuanyanwu’s comment and whether his view is a reflection of the thinking of the Igbo group of the Yorubas.
In a long epistle on his Twitter handle during the weekend, Fani-Kayode said the Ohanaeze chieftain was speaking for himself when he reportedly called the Yoruba people ‘rascals’.
He said: “As for Iwanyanwu, I will not respond to him or to all those that were at that event and that collectively rubbished our people because they are my in-laws and because my four sons are half Igbo.
“There is nothing Iwanyawau can say that will make me turn against the Igbo because I have blood and family ties with them, and I will continue to love them despite this outrageous provocation.
“Apart from that there are millions of Igbos who do not share Iwanyanwu’s views and who have shown nothing but the greatest respect for the Yoruba race and our Northern brothers and allies.
“Amongst them are dear friends and brothers like John Nwodo, Orji Uzor Kalu, Chimaroke Nnamani, Ifeanyi Ugwainyi, David Umahi, Hope Uzodinma, Innocent Chukwuma, Emeka Offor, and so many others.”
A transcript of what Iwuanyanwu said at the event, however, seemed he was referring to political thugs who oppressed the Igbo speaking people during the just concluded election elections in Lagos State.
Below is the full transcript ast obtained by PremiumTimes:
“Ndigbo Ekelenu o o! Ndigbo Ekelenu o o!!
“Ehem, please, I will crave your indulgence to please permit me to sit down. Most of you, especially those who are older, they know that I have some injuries while serving our people. I can’t stand for too long. Thank you very much.
“I must express my profound thanksgiving and gratitude to my dear friend, Charles Soludo, who invited me to be chairman of this very special event. 365 days in the office of Professor Charles Soludo.
“Charles Soludo is a very proud son of Igboland given to Igbo people from Anambra State. Charles Soludo has done excellently in academics. His record at the University of Nigeria is very clear. He has shown excellence in service to Ndigbo. He was the chairman, the Planning and Strategy of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The first chairman, of Planning and Strategy (of Ohanaeze Ndigbo) was Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu. Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu handed over to me. Then, I handed it over to Prof. Soludo. That is a man who was the governor of the Central Bank (of Nigeria). And when he was governor of the Central Bank, I am sure our president, our Baba, our beloved (Olusegun) Obasanjo will tell better. We never had problems with currency. He did very well. And he made all of us very proud.
“Let me tell you, Anambra people. When voted for him to be governor, there was jubilation, not only here in Anambra, but all over Igboland. Many years ago, he was in the PDP. Then, I was a member of the Board of Trustees. I was representing the South-east in the national caucus. The person who put me to be member of the Board of Trustees was President Obasanjo. He gave me that opportunity. I came and campaigned for him (Soludo) that time. But you know politics in Nigeria. And I told him God’s time is the best. Eventually, when he won, I was very very happy. We are celebrating (his) 365 days in office, but Anambra people, I want to let you know that in a larger sense, this is a Thanksgiving Day for Anambra. Anambra people should be very proud and very grateful to God. God has blessed the Anambra people. Anambra is the cradle of Igbo development in education, Igbo development in industry and in other areas.
“You will recollect in 1857 when the white missionaries landed in River Niger, then they started from there and spread and Anambra State became the educational centre. Onitsha, for example, has produced more leaders in Nigeria because Onitsha had so many secondary schools at that time than any place in this country.
“Awka here, in the Anglican Communion, my parents were Anglican Church missionaries, they were teachers. We regard Awka as hallowed ground because most of our parents studied at Saint Paul’s or Saint Mark’s College, Awka. So, Anambra has been a cradle of all the great things that happened to us over here. So, when you celebrate this, you have to be grateful to God.
“And of course, God has blessed Anambra. You look at great leaders – Nnamdi Azikiwe, you look at my boss, Ikemba Ojukwu, who was my boss, and he loved me so much. I am glad the wife is here. You look at people like Alex Ekwueme, you look at people like many leaders all from Anambra State. So, Anambra is a place that is blessed.
And in industry, a man like Arthur Eze, he is a very rare person. He has a wonderful mind.
“Arthur Eze struggled on his own to make wealth. He has distributed it to people. We are very proud of him. It is only here in Anambra. Arthur Eze is giving to people all over the country. There are so many things, I can’t continue going one by one. He has given me the opportunity, too, to meet some of my friends. People like the Chairman of South-east Manufacturers Association (of Nigeria), that’s Adaku Chukwudozie. She is here. And many people (like) the governor of Cross River, who love us so much.
“But I want to take the liberty of this to thank our leader, Obasanjo. Obasanjo is one of the greatest leaders Nigeria has ever produced. I saw Obasanjo on the television in his alma mater, running like a schoolboy, at the age of 82. He’s getting to 90. And I gave thanks to God.
“Obasanjo has come first in many things. He was the first person to hand over the government to a civilian administration. And you remember that time, he didn’t hand it over to somebody from his side. Obasanjo was the first person to come back and become president. Obasanjo showed love to every part of this country. When the story is told, and history is written, that period of Obasanjo’s rule will be regarded as a golden era in the history of Nigeria.
“My first contact with Obasanjo was in 1970 when we (Biafrans) surrendered (to Nigerian authorities during the Nigerian civil war). Obasanjo was the person who actually made the war to end peacefully. He is a man of history. God has destined him. Without people like Obasanjo and (Yakubu) Gowon, it would have been a different story because Biafra was not ready to surrender, the war would have continued. We were not ready to surrender even if they were bringing the whole weapons all over the world because we were convinced we were not well treated. This is a very great man.
“And recently, I want to tell you, Your Excellency, your position on national issues, we appreciate it. We in Ohanaeze, we appreciate it. I am speaking to you as the chairman of the Council of Elders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. We appreciate you and we support you and we are very proud of you.
“Now, I saw the traders’ association coming here from Lagos. I want to let our people in Lagos to know that on Wednesday, I called a meeting of Ohanaeze Council of Elders World Wide and we x-rayed the events in Lagos. And I want to tell you that people attended the branches in America, in Canada, Europe, in London and Nigeria, we have resolved and I want those from Lagos to go home and tell those in Lagos. We have resolved that never again can we allow anybody to take the life of any innocent person. All of us are going to fight the person. We are going to fight the person. Never again.
“We are in Nigeria and we have invested in Nigeria. Our investments are so much. We are not going to take the question of people telling us to go. We are not going anywhere. And I want to tell those in Lagos to realise that there is no war between us and Yorubas. The Yorubas are… they are just political rascals and we are going to handle them. The elders have directed the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, (Okey) Emuchay, to set up the commission of enquiry to find out things destroyed. People are going to pay.
“Meanwhile, I want to say, I thank you for this opportunity. I am very grateful and I want you to give Soludo support. Give him support so that he will continue to concentrate on his job and do more.